Record level of opposition to fracking – government survey

The latest findings from an ongoing government survey show the highest level of opposition to shale gas exploitation so far.

The gap between support and opposition is the largest recorded in the survey and the proportion of participants who are undecided is at its lowest level.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Public Attitudes Tracker (Wave 15), released today, found opposition to fracking stood at 31%, an increase from 28% in the previous survey carried out in June. Support for shale gas stood at 23%, up from 21% in the June survey.



People who said they neither supported nor opposed made up 43%, down from 46% in June. People who said they didn’t know stood at 3%, down from 5% in June.


The latest findings are based on questionnaires with more than 2,000 households in September. It was the eighth time participants were asked for their views on exploiting shale gas.

When the question was first asked in December 2013, support stood at 28% and opposition at 21%. The proportion of people who neither supported nor opposed was 48% and people who said they didn’t know was 4%.

Since then, support has gradually fallen and opposition risen. In December 2013, the gap between support and opposition was +7% in favour of shale gas exploitation. From June to December 2014, support and opposition were about equal. Then the gap changed in favour of opposition, increasing to 8% in the latest survey.


The findings confirmed a previously reported trend that women were more likely to oppose shale gas than men and older people were more likely to support it. DECC said:

“Support for fracking differs by gender, with men (30%) more likely than women (17%) to support it. Older people also tend to support fracking the most, with 30% of over 65s saying they support it.”

“Opposition to fracking is highest amongst those aged 45-54 (38%) and 55-64 (40%), whilst people in rural areas are also slightly more likely to be opposed (33%).”

Awareness of shale gas exploitation has remained fairly stable over the past 18 months. In the latest survey, 56% said they knew a lot or a little about shale. This compares with 52% in December 2013. The proportion who said they had never heard of it has fallen from 30% in December 2013 to 23% in the most recent survey.


DECC said:

“Awareness of fracking was higher for over 45s (87%), social grade AB (88%), males (84%), and people in rural areas (81%).”

  • A representative sample of 2,121 households in the UK were interviewed face-to-face at home from 23rd-27th September 2015.

Link to Public Attitudes Tracking Survey: Wave 15

Links to DrillOrDrop’s reports on the Wave 14 survey and Nottingham University’s latest polling on fracking.

4 replies »

  1. I have only one issue about this. Yep, its measuring public feeling on it, but public feeling has been informed by a large misinformation campaign. The way to tell this is not to just ask people if they agree or disagree and whether they have heard of it or not, or whether they feel they understand enough about it, but instead to ask them about it and tell if they actually do know about it. And not just to standards of activists, but whether their understand really reflects the current scientific consensus on the subject.

    So far, I have very little feeling that it does. It looks to me that all that is happening is that the figures are soft because of the environmental campaign. Activists can be happy with the numbers, but I doubt they are a very good reflection of what will happen once drilling gets properly underway and none of the claims of the environmentalists come about.

    I think what amazes me most is that after 5 years of protests and claims about poisoning, death, devastation, cancer – everything they could ever throw at it and try and make stick – opposition is only at 1/3. As a social experiment it has been quite interesting in that respect. In that respect I don’t really understand why opposition is not alot higher. You would think that telling people something was going to kill everyone and destroy the environment would motivate more than 1/3.

    Interesting to see support for fracking increase too. There is obviously ground to be won on the pro side – more effort to put in. But in reality with these things it tends to just settle down once the public see that it isn’t what the environmentalists have been making out. The UK has a long history of protest and most of it if forgotten and ultimately ineffectual in the long term. I remember BP suffering protests at the beginning of Wytch Farm and in the end it became Europe’s largest onshore oil field right inside one of the highest land value parts of the country with numerous tourists driving right past it without knowing it was there. The same goes for numerous other projects where people get a bee in their bonnet and campaign, but then it goes ahead, and ultimately the community settles down, accepts it, and moves on. Of course the same applies to all the wind farms that were opposed and protested against too.

    It was the way of the world, and due to the internet it will only increase in the future. Perhaps campaigning groups think that that means they will get their own way more in the future, but as protests around numerous things become more common, and the email boxes of MPs fill up around numerous things as we all communicate better it will just become something we all work around and live with. Eventually just neutering itself as everyone gets familiar with ‘just another protest’.

  2. I am so tired of people rolling out the same old reasons to justify fracking. The trend is clear , the more people inform themselves about fracking the more oppose it. It is condescending beyond belief that supporters of fracking assume the public are all ill informed and unable to make their minds up about fracking without the influence of campaign groups. Why is it presumed that somehow those that support fracking are either more intelligent or better informed? I have a scientific background and I am not convinced by either the economic or environmental case for shale. As a report from the Oxford Energy Institute states – the UK has a “paranoia” about importing gas, when other European nations have imported gas as a way of life for many decades. Fracking has failed in Poland and Denmark, yet the government and industry are peddling fracking as though there is no alternative.
    Extracting shale is unpredictable, having spent time with the unconventional gas industry in the US it is very much a trial and error process – you can drill two laterals from the same well and one will produce gas and the other will produce hardly anything. The Type Curve can vary hugely from wells drilled in the same area. The toll on the environment and local communities is significant.
    The UK is set to breach European law by missing renewable energy targets and is failing our climate change moral duty.
    If Sweden and other nations are geared up to embrace a zero carbon economy in a matter of years, you have to ask yourself why not the UK. Answer Because of underinvestment, a bodged energy policy, lack of political will and a short sighted government that is fixated with shale.
    With gas and oil prices at such a low level and over supply available, shale is not a good economic prospect, it will not provide cheap energy.
    There are other and better ways to bridge us to a sustainable and green energy mix.
    And one last point, given the nature of fracking, where thousands of wells are required in numerous different locations – evidence shows from other countries the communities have not settled down and accepted it. In fact opposition is growing.

  3. Statistic are a game played by those trying to persuade in favour or against an issue and make a fast buck into the bargain. The recent returns in Scotland’s survey on the referendum delivered a total figure of over 101 per cent of people responding, showing that someone was fiddling the numbers, which can also extend to someone fiddling the election result using the same methods. Recently the UK elections showed while many polls were taking away the conservative vote, ultimately the result was a rather amazing win with only a small percentage of the total vote, going to the conservatives.

    Statistics mean nothing at all. In addition many people now deliberately give the wrong response in questionnaires, knowing full well how phraseology and results are used to dupe and disseminate lies and spin.

    In addition, why would anyone act on statistics at government level? We saw millions march against Blair’s vanity project in Iraq, they were ignored. We saw a high poll against GM and yet Leeds university helped by Hilary Benn is gung ho for GM experiments, all in the name of nepotism aka Benn’s bro being a GM scientist, and all this flying in the face of public opposition and substantial global reporting on how GM chemical laden so called fertilisers aka get rich quick selling hyped up profiteering seed systems. In addition industry and some politicians and as we see in an ever increasing politicised members of the civil service, have a knack for placing employees in front of such pollsters in order to swing the vote in ways that support profiteering and not democracy.

    The day when statistics are properly collected is never going to arrive. The use of them to persuade the unthinking, undiscerning and couldn’t care less I’ll go with what everyone else wants, is too powerful to ignore. In the above stats across the range of responses nothing at all of any substance has been proven, other than perhaps civil servants, industry slaves and employees need to work harder to continue to pervert the poll results if they are to be seen to win the fracking debate.

  4. So ignoring what the majority of people think in this country is what passes for democracy, how much further can the politicians of England show their contempt for the electorate. I was a local councillor for eighteen years and knew the councillors who had integrity and honesty, and the backbone to go against their own party . Unfortunately the M.P.s
    Who are supposed to be thinking intelligent people and are there to represent the majority of voters are showing their true colours, once elected they become yes people of the worst kind and follow like sheep, they should try using their brains and support the people who voted them into the lucrative positions they now hold, the majority of electorate in ENGLAND DO NOT WANT FRACKING IN THIS COUNTRY is that plain enough.

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